10 Things You Might Not Know About Bisquick

articgoneape/Getty Images
articgoneape/Getty Images

Since 1931, Bisquick has been helping home cooks make a variety of quick and delicious Bisquick recipes. With its instantly recognizable yellow and blue box, the baking mix holds the key to making foods ranging from biscuits, pancakes, and waffles to dumplings, pot pies, and even churros. Read on for some facts about the famous Betty Crocker brand.

1. Bisquick's creation was inspired by a train ride to San Francisco.

On a train ride to San Francisco in 1930, Carl Smith, a sales executive at General Mills (which owns the Betty Crocker brand), ate some amazing biscuits. After he ordered the biscuits, he was impressed by how the train’s cook was able to quickly whip up fresh biscuits on demand. The cook showed Smith his secret for making fresh biscuits so quickly: He kept a pre-mixed blend of flour, baking powder, lard, and salt on ice.

2. General Mills acted quickly to get Bisquick in grocery stores.

Smith pitched the idea of a ready-to-bake biscuit mix to other executives at General Mills, and the company set out to make a blend of ingredients that could sit on the shelf of a grocery store without being refrigerated. Charlie Kress, the company’s head chemist, led the efforts to make the mix, and boxes of Bisquick went on sale to the public in 1931. It was incredibly popular, so competitors started selling Bisquick knock-offs, but Bisquick was the top seller.

3. Bisquick hired Shirley Temple to get kids to drink more milk.

In 1935, Bisquick partnered with child megastar Shirley Temple to sell more boxes of Bisquick and encourage kids to drink milk. Bisquick gave a free kid’s mug with Temple’s photo on it to customers who bought a large Bisquick box. Because the Bisquick mix required milk or water to be added to it, parents could use milk to make their biscuits, and kids could drink milk out of their Shirley Temple cups.

4. Bisquick offered a "world of baking in a box."

During the 1940s, Americans used Bisquick because it was a cheap, versatile convenience food. Bisquick’s slogan became “a world of baking in a box” to indicate that people could use the mix to make more than just biscuits. Recipes for coffee cake, muffins, fruit shortcake, and dumplings were printed on the back of Bisquick boxes, and home cooks used Bisquick to make everything from meat pies to cobblers.

5. The Bisquick recipe was modified in the 1960s.

General Mills changed the Bisquick recipe in the late 1960s to make biscuits fluffier and lighter in texture. The new product, which had buttermilk and more shortening in it, was called New Bisquick. New Bisquick was a hit, and after it replaced the old formulation, it was simply called Bisquick.

6. Bisquick recipes were traded and shared by fans.

In the 1970s and 1980s, Bisquick focused on recipes. In 1971, Betty Crocker's Bisquick Cookbook gave readers more than 200 recipes using Bisquick. In 1980, the Bisquick Recipe Club served as an early social network for Bisquick fans. The club sent cookbooks and The Bisquick Banner—a newsletter with Bisquick recipes and ideas—to fans across the country.

7. Bisquick Shake n' Pour simplified the baking process even further.

Although Bisquick is already a convenient, time-saving food, General Mills found a way to make it even easier for (lazy) cooks. With Bisquick Shake 'n Pour, all you have to do is add water to the container, shake it, and pour the mix onto your griddle. Bisquick Shake 'n Pour includes dried egg whites, defatted soy flour, and buttermilk, so there’s no need to measure the mix, crack an egg, or add milk.

8. Regular Bisquick contains trans fats ...

Health-conscious customers object to Bisquick’s use of trans fat—specifically, partially hydrogenated soybean and/or cottonseed oil—as an ingredient in the baking mix. Partially hydrogenated oils can raise your level of LDL (bad) cholesterol and lower your level of HDL (good) cholesterol, which can lead to cardiovascular disease. Consequently, you can find recipes online for a homemade Bisquick alternative, which uses flour, butter, baking powder, and salt.

9. ... so Bisquick introduced a heart-healthier variety.

Bisquick Heart Smart Pancake and Baking Mix is an option for customers who don’t want to eat trans fat (and don’t want to make their own homemade version of Bisquick). This variant contains no partially hydrogenated oils and has zero grams of trans fat.

10. Gluten-free Bisquick is a thing.

Bisquick sells a gluten-free pancake and baking mix, which contains rice flour and modified potato starch. Betty Crocker’s website also has a section devoted to gluten-free recipes, with everything from pumpkin pie to frittatas to cranberry stuffing to brownies.

Kodak’s New Cameras Don't Just Take Photos—They Also Print Them

Your Instagram account wishes it had this clout.
Your Instagram account wishes it had this clout.
Kodak

Snapping a photo and immediately sharing it on social media is definitely convenient, but there’s still something so satisfying about having the printed photo—like you’re actually holding the memory in your hands. Kodak’s new STEP cameras now offer the best of both worlds.

As its name implies, the Kodak STEP Instant Print Digital Camera, available for $70 on Amazon, lets you take a picture and print it out on that very same device. Not only do you get to skip the irksome process of uploading photos to your computer and printing them on your bulky, non-portable printer (or worse yet, having to wait for your local pharmacy to print them for you), but you never need to bother with ink cartridges or toner, either. The Kodak STEP comes with special 2-inch-by-3-inch printing paper inlaid with color crystals that bring your image to life. There’s also an adhesive layer on the back, so you can easily stick your photos to laptop covers, scrapbooks, or whatever else could use a little adornment.

There's a 10-second self-timer, so you don't have to ask strangers to take your group photos.Kodak

For those of you who want to give your photos some added flair, you might like the Kodak STEP Touch, available for $130 from Amazon. It’s similar to the regular Kodak STEP, but the LCD touch screen allows you to edit your photos before you print them; you can also shoot short videos and even share your content straight to social media.

If you want to print photos from your smartphone gallery, there's the Kodak STEP Instant Mobile Photo Printer. This portable $80 printer connects to any iOS or Android device with Bluetooth capabilities and can print whatever photos you send to it.

The Kodak STEP Instant Mobile Photo Printer connects to an app that allows you to add filters and other effects to your photos. Kodak

All three Kodak STEP devices come with some of that magical printer paper, but you can order additional refills, too—a 20-sheet set costs $8 on Amazon.

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Why Do We Say ‘Spill the Beans’?

This is a Greek tragedy.
This is a Greek tragedy.
anthony_taylor/iStock via Getty Images

Though superfans of The Office may claim otherwise, the phrase spill the beans did not originate when Kevin Malone dropped a massive bucket of chili at work during episode 26 of season five. In fact, people supposedly started talking about spilling the beans more than 2000 years ago.

According to Bloomsbury International, one voting method in ancient Greece involved (uncooked) beans. If you were voting yes on a certain matter, you’d place a white bean in the jar; if you were voting no, you’d use your black bean. The jar wasn’t transparent, and since the votes were meant to be kept secret until the final tally, someone who accidentally knocked it over mid-vote was literally spilling the beans—and figuratively spilling the beans about the results.

While we don’t know for sure that the phrase spill the beans really does date all the way back to ancient times, we do know that people have used the word spill to mean “divulge” at least since the 16th century. The Oxford English Dictionary’s earliest known reference of it is from a letter written by Spanish chronicler Antonio de Guevara sometime before his death in 1545 (the word spill appears in Edward Hellowes’s 1577 translation of the letter).

Writers started to pair spill with beans during the 20th century. The first known mention is from Thomas K. Holmes’s 1919 novel The Man From Tall Timber: “‘Mother certainly has spilled the beans!’ thought Stafford in vast amusement.”

In short, it’s still a mystery why people decided that beans were an ideal food to describe spilling secrets. As for whether you’re imagining hard, raw beans like the Greeks used or the tender, seasoned beans from Kevin Malone’s ill-fated chili, we’ll leave that up to you.

[h/t Bloomsbury International]